COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — In his first Atlantic Coast Conference game as a head coach, Steve Donahue was forced to bring Boston College into the arena of the league’s defending regular season co-champions.
After leading the Eagles over Maryland 79-75 on Sunday, Donahue wanted nothing more than to sit back and savor the experience.
“I’m taking it all in because it’s just a great college basketball experience,” said Donahue, who spent the previous 10 seasons at Cornell. “I like the fact we played our first one on the road. A little less pressure to win. People don’t expect it, so you go out and make plays and don’t worry about mistakes.”
Biko Paris scored a career-high 22 points and Corey Raji drilled the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 33.7 seconds left to lift Boston College (8-2, 1-0) to a surprising victory. Maryland had won 15 straight at home and last season tied Duke for the ACC regular season title.
“We persevered,” Paris said. “The coaches did a good job of preparing us for a game like this.”
Reggie Jackson scored 16 for the Eagles, who made 13 3-pointers in extending their winning streak to five games.
“They ran a really nice press,” Paris said of the Terrapins, “but they were slow getting back on defense so we had a lot of wide open shots.”
Jordan Williams had a career-high 27 points and 13 rebounds for Maryland (7-4, 0-1). The Terrapins failed to score over the final 2:40.
“This really hurts for me personally to lose this game,” Maryland coach Gary Williams said. “I thought it was a game we could win, but give Boston College credit. We can get better.”
The back-and-forth game featured 16 lead changes and 11 ties.
“I was proud of our guys persevering through chances,” Donahue said. “I thought Maryland had chances to put us away and we fought through big shot after big shot.”
After a basket by Williams in the lane and a drive by Adrian Bowie put the Terps ahead 75-72, Joe Trapani made one of two foul shots for BC and a basket by Raji tied it, setting the stage for the thrilling finish.
Freshman Terrell Stoglin missed a jumper and the front end of a 1-and-1 before Raji connected for the game-winner off a pass from Jackson.
Maryland senior Cliff Turner then lost the ball, and Raji sank a free throw with 14 seconds left.
“Anytime a game gets like that in the last few minutes, things happen,” Gary Williams said. “We missed some shots, they made some shots. It’s the first 38 minutes a lot of times that determines getting into that situation.”
It was the fifth straight double-double for Williams, whose previous career high in points was 26. Stoglin and Dino Gregory each scored 14. But the Terrapins were 3 for 17 from beyond the arc.
“Any loss is disappointing, but to start ACC play with a loss is tough,” Jordan Williams said.
Maryland led 57-53 before Raji and Paris hit 3-pointers in a 7-2 spurt for the Eagles. A dunk by Williams blunted the charge, but Jackson made a jumper to put BC back in front.
No lead was safe. The Terrapins led 67-64 before Paris sank a 3-pointer, and minutes later a 3-pointer by Trapani put Boston College ahead 72-71.
Williams had 13 points and Stoglin had 10 to help the Terrapins take a 41-39 halftime lead.
Maryland went up for the first time when Sean Mosley stole the ball from Jackson in the backcourt and made a three-point play for a 23-21 lead.
Jackson had only two points before his three-point play got the Eagles to 38-37. Williams then made a three-point play on the other end before Jackson drove the lane for the final basket before the break.
“Even though we had a two-point lead at halftime, I felt we should have had a bigger lead,” Gary Williams said. “But it wasn’t there. Then in the second half, no one could pull away.”
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